THE ALCORA EXERCISE AND TURBULENT RELATIONS DURING NATIONALIST STRUGGLES IN PORTUGUESE FORMER AFRICAN COLONIES: THE ROOTS OF PRESENT DAY SOCIAL CRISIS AND UNCERTAINTY?

C. B. Rosa, B. S. Santos, M. P. Meneses, B. S. Martins & N. Coimbra, CES – Centre for Social Studies, UNIVERSITY OF COIMBRA, Coimbra, Portugal

Abstract

Portuguese Colonial War, that began half a century ago, remains a little researched topic regarding its broader social and geostrategic implications. This paper seeks to discuss the preliminary results of an ongoing project about the Alcora Exercise. This secret alliance, established between Portugal, South Africa and Rhodesia in 1970, aimed to fight against African nationalist movements, to preserve the “white” sovereignty in Southern Africa. Colonial War, besides constituting a founding moment of the sociopolitical reality of present day Portugal, was crucial to independencies of its former African colonies, having, likewise, repercussions in the lasting conflicts that followed (the so called civil wars). Thus, a thorough understanding of Portuguese Colonial War gains relevance in a critical approach to the construction of national memories in all countries involved. It is crucial to understand the roots of present day social and political crisis in liberated African colonies, as well as to recognize how such important secrets – as is this “white” alliance against black nationalisms in Southern Africa – reached present days untold.

Exploring research lines suggested by Alcora Exercise, Colonial War will be seen as part of a regional conflict – fight against black independencies in Southern Africa –, and as part of a global one – what some consider having been a Cold War subsystem in Southern Africa. One of our lines of questioning will, then, focus on the implications of the Alcora Exercise in a “post-colonial violent order” in newly independent African states, seeking to shed a new light over the roots of present day sociopolitical crisis sadly affecting those countries.

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